While Mercedes soared, Ferrari slumped to further humiliation with neither of their cars starting their home race in the top 10 for the first time since 1984.

Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton is pictured at the Italian Grand Prix at Autodromo Nazionale Monza in Monza, Italy on September 5, 2020.
Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton is pictured at the Italian Grand Prix at Autodromo Nazionale Monza in Monza, Italy on September 5, 2020. (Reuters)

Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton has set the fastest lap in history in terms of car speed to grab pole position at the Italian Grand Prix, nudging Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas into second place by just 0.069 seconds.

In perfect conditions, the air temperature was 28 degrees and the track 46 as Q1 began under blue skies at the Autodromo Nazionale.

McLaren's Carlos Sainz posted the third fastest time and is joined on the second row by Sergio Perez for Racing Point.

But Ferrari’s troubles went from bad to worse as both drivers failed to qualify inside the top 10 at the team's home circuit for the first time since 1984, with Sebastian Vettel not even making it out of Q1.

It was Hamilton's record-increasing 94th career pole position, his sixth in seven races and his seventh in Italy. It also extended Mercedes run to eight consecutive pole positions this season.

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Hamilton flew around Monza’s 5.69 km of asphalt in 264.362 kph at the so-called Temple of Speed to eclipse Kimi Raikkonen’s one-lap record set by the former world champion on his way to pole at Monza two years ago.

“Fantastic from the team today in terms of timing, when they put us out on the track,” Hamilton said after clocking a best lap of 1 minute 18.887 seconds. "It really demanded a clean lap so I am really happy.

“Valtteri was very, very close, pushing. I made some changes going into qualifying so I was a little bit nervous about whether that was the right thing to do but it worked just fine.”

Bottas and Hamilton exchanged track records on their way to securing yet another Mercedes front-row lockout. McLaren driver Carlos Sainz, who moves to Ferrari next year, was third, 0.808 behind the British driver and just ahead of Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen.

A win for a 90th time on Sunday for Hamilton could move him within one victory of Michael Schumacher’s record.

There will be no crowd at the most passionate and atmospheric of venues on Sunday, due to Covid-19 restrictions, which may be just as well for Ferrari as they endure their worst season in decades.

Hamilton looks on course to extend his championship lead, which stands at 47 points from Red Bull rival Max Verstappen and 50 from Bottas.

Terrible to abysmal

Things went from terrible to abysmal for Ferrari. Charles Leclerc qualified 13th and has little chance of repeating last year when he won from pole position to end the team’s nine-year wait for victory at Monza.

Vettel finished 17th after being hampered by traffic on his final lap.

“What a mess,” Vettel said on the team radio before letting out an expletive.

"(It was) the best I can do," he said. 

Earlier, Bottas led third and final practice.

Bottas was 0.229 faster than Sainz and 0.323 quicker than Lando Norris after an impressive showing from the McLaren pair.

The session was interrupted about 10 minutes from the end after a mechanical problem with Daniel Ricciardo’s Renault, with the cars managing to come out for a final flying lap.

Hamilton was fifth fastest but survived a fright at the end, with the Mercedes driver swerving at speed on the approach to the Parabolica corner to avoid two cars going slowly side by side.

No action was taken by the stewards.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies